President Donald Trump welcomed his new top military adviser during a rainy ceremony in Virginia on Monday, but the event may be most remembered for a touching moment the president and his national security team shared with a disabled Army captain.
At the conclusion of the ceremony at Fort Myer, Capt. Luis Avila performed a moving rendition of "God Bless America" for Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
The president and his team then joined the captain in his performance before embracing and shaking hands with him and his caregiver.
Avila was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast while deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. Now almost completely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Avila has included music therapy as part of his healing and recovery process -- the success of which was the focus of a recent study published in the "Disability and Rehabilitation" journal.
The study concluded that "in collaboration with other treatment disciplines, music therapy contributed to improvements in range of motion, functional use of bilateral upper extremities, strength endurance, breath support, articulation, task-attention, compensatory strategies, social integration, quality of life, and overall motivation in [Avila's] recovery process."
The Army captain has performed at several military events in recent years, including the 2019 Warrior Games.
Avila gifted the president, vice president, defense secretary and chairman what appeared to be his own "challenge coin" -- small medallions normally awarded by military commanders.
Earlier during Monday's ceremony, Milley was sworn in as the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, taking over for Gen. Joseph Dunford, who served a four-year term as the top military adviser to President Barack Obama and President Trump. Dunford will retire after more than four decades in the Marine Corps.
Milley, who previously served as the Chief of Staff of the Army, told the crowd he will always provide "informed, candid, impartial military advise" to the president and his national security team. The president called Milley his "friend" and "adviser," adding he "never had a doubt" that the Army general would serve as his next chairman.